Posted by: garyskidmore | June 30, 2014

Students Get an EDGE: Optimism from Inside & Outside the Classroom

From ATX - Student Optimism - June 14 - 2

I’ve had a busy spring involved in higher education – and seriously, I can’t recall a time when I’ve encountered a maturity, level of enthusiasm, and skills-matching for launching and thriving in careers in marketing.

This month, I joined the Board of Trustees of Marketing EDGE (formerly the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation), a New York-based nonprofit education organization. Marketing EDGE programs literally touch thousands of students, hundreds of academicians and hundreds of marketing organizations (commercial and nonprofit, agencies, ad tech companies and brands) each year. Its many programs and scholarships serve to build a bridge between a better marketing education in colleges and universities (undergraduate and graduate) and a better learning and early-career experience inside some of the best marketing firms in the business. I love the work it is doing.

This short video (2 and a half minutes) captures the excitement that Marketing EDGE has to offer:

One such program is I-MAX [Interactive Marketing Analytics eXperience] where a group of very mature, knowledgeable, capable and encouraging marketing students get real-life case work and training inside the marketing analytics practice of a sponsoring data-driven marketing company.

Another event I attended this month was Marketing EDGE’s “Rising Stars” event in New York. Six under-40 marketing leaders who are not only creating innovation in the practice of marketing, but also are giving back through mentoring, teaching and encouraging the professional development of all their colleagues – might I say, younger and older. These individuals are making a difference in companies old and new, from startups to Fortune 500s.

In May, I judged the University of Texas MBA New Venture Creation competition, which involved primarily experienced business people who had returned to get their MBA degree. Innovation again, and very much on the cutting edge, among them a consumer packaged goods company that actually has been launched, a professional services company and a financial services company. In all three, technology is enabling whole new ways of creating, engaging and growing customers – creating value each and every step.

Call me Professor, adjunct that is: I also taught Direct Marketing every Monday night this past semester at Abilene Christian University, to 35 about-to-graduate seniors. There were no text books. There was actual, real-time information on the best digital marketing brands (some offline integration, too) that enabled knowledge transfer (and knowledge discovery, I learned a few things as well) through case studies. At the end of the semester, six class teams presented digital marketing ideas – and they pushed the innovation envelope with some ideas I’d love to test.

Here’s my take-aways from six months of involvement with marketing higher ed:

• Today’s university students and youngest professionals (Millennials) are smart and want to learn cutting-edge ideas – not text book stuff. They learn by doing.
• They want, and seek out, jobs that interest them – not those that pay the most.
• They want real-world internship experiences where they do real work – not make photocopies and order lunches.
• They expect to make a difference – and they seek out employers who do the same.
• And they understand the importance of analytics – they have taken lots of math and science to prepare and they know this is a difference maker.

I am bullish on what I’m hearing and seeing in our next generation of marketing professionals. I’m hopeful that more companies are in a position to prepare to hire these individuals because, with the right culture and openness, they will make a difference, and the practice of marketing will improve because of it.

Post your open internships, entry-level and early-experience jobs to:

Helpful Links:

• Marketing EDGE: | Twitter @mktgEDGEorg

• Abilene Christian University | Marketing Degree Program:

• University of Texas MBA Program:


“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

― Albert Einstein

From ATX - Student Optimism - June 14 - 1



  1. Great post, Gary. As a seasoned marketing executive, I’ve found the 20-somethings entering my workplace to be adventurous, innovative and compelling. Yes, they’re also narcissistic, entitled and disrespectful, but I patiently compel my cadre of millennials to adjust those tendencies. Marketing Edge appears to not only give millennials an edge, but also takes the edge off.

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